As ore grades continue to decline in the mining space, FLSmidth says its expertise in mineral sampling and laboratory automation is becoming increasingly valuable to mines.
“The more you understand about the characteristics of the ore entering your process plant, the better you can treat it,” Martin Matthysen, Director, SPA (sampling, preparation and analysis), Sub Saharan African and Middle East at FLSmidth, said. “But this needs technology that can sample high volumes, maintain rapid turnaround times and deliver quality results.”
Only then can plant operators respond to laboratory data in real time, which is one of the keys to effective plant optimisation. With over 30 years of experience, FLSmidth has been a pioneer in laboratory systems integration, as well as driving automation in the laboratory environment, it says.
“Our particular expertise in laboratory automation is now recognised worldwide,” Matthysen said. “This is why we have supplied 95% of all automated laboratories to the global mining industry constructed over the past dozen years or so.”
This automation expertise was bolstered last year when the company completed the acquisition of IMP Automation Group, a global leader in automated laboratory solutions for the mining industry. Included in the transaction was IMP’s 50% share in a joint venture which provides complete operations and maintenance-based solutions for automated labs, the company said.
FLSmidth’s offerings address all stages of a mines’ sampling and analysis requirements. It designs solutions for exploration and ore characterisation, grade control, process plants and port shipment. The highest quality equipment is sourced and applied to a laboratory solution to achieve accurate sampling, effective sample preparation and detailed sample analysis, the company says.
Each laboratory design is unique, Matthysen says, as it must suit each customer’s operating conditions and strategic goals. The design process, therefore, demands close collaboration with the customer and a detailed examination of mined material and process demands. This ensures the laboratory generates exactly the type of analytical data the plant operators require.
“With our world-class mineral research and testing facilities, we are constantly pioneering innovations that add value to customers,” he says. “Our automated solutions also offer consistency and traceability, while improving ergonomics and eliminating hazards to laboratory personnel.”
Among the company’s innovations has been an environmentally friendly methodology that replaces traditional wet chemistry. With no acid being used to dissolve platinum ore, for instance, the process produces no toxic waste – dramatically reducing the impact on the environment, according to FLSmidth.
“We are accredited in terms of international quality standards, and work strictly to our customers’ stringent specifications regarding health, safety and environment,” Matthysen says. “Our expertise gives customers the confidence not only to procure laboratories from us, but increasingly to contract us to maintain and operate those facilities on their behalf.”